Two new bills have changed the way Montana manages grizzlies. SB 98 and SB 337 are the two bills that have changed grizzly management. The management of grizzlies has been a hot-button topic for years. Efforts to remove the bears from the Endangered Species List have been met with opposition every time it’s been tried. Nearly every battle also ends up in a court case. As a result, the Montana legislature proposed and passed both SB 98 and SB 337. Below we will list some details about both bills.
This bill will increase the circumstances in which a person can legally kill a grizzly bear. It still states that grizzlies can only be killed if the person is protecting themselves or their property. It also states that if a person kills a grizzly that is attempting to kill or harm humans or livestock, that person will have “absolute defense” against being charged with a crime. The bill also states that grizzly bear numbers have increased to the point that they should be removed from the Endangered Species List. However, opponents of the bill say it is in direct conflict with federal law. They worry it will give the impression that ranchers can shoot bear more readily and cause more legal issues than currently.
Simply put, SB 337 changes who manages bears outside of federal recovery zones. Under SB 337, if a bear is captured outside the recovery zones Montana wildlife officials are not responsible for relocating or euthanizing the bear. Instead, it would fall to federal wildlife officials. Likewise, federal officials would be responsible for covering the cost of those bear operations. However, opponents of the bill say without the two entities working together more grizzly bears will be killed. If it takes too long for officials to respond to bear calls, the bear may end up getting its self into a worse situation.
These two bills were signed into law by the Governor last month despite the concerns from opponents. As a clarification, this action has now turned the two bills into full-fledged laws within the state.
So, what are your thoughts on these two bills and managing grizzlies? Have you ever run into a grizzly while out hunting. Let us know in the comments.